Where, and what, is the ‘Postage Stamp’?
The ‘Postage Stamp’ is the name of the par-3 eighth hole on the Old Course at Royal Troon Golf Club in Troon, South Ayrshire, which has hosted the Open Championship on nine occasions. The name was coined when William Park – not to be confused with Willie Park Jr., who won the Open Chanpionship twice, at Prestwick in 1887 and Musselburgh Links in 1889 – described the long, narrow green as ‘a pitching surface skimmed down to the size of a postage stamp’ in an article in ‘Golf Illustrated’ in 1922, but not officially adopted until the Fifties. Indeed, the eighth hole was originally named ‘Ailsa’, after Ailsa Craig, a granite, volcanic island that lies ten miles offshore at the mouth of the Firth of Clyde, but is clearly visible from the elevated teeing ground.
Measuring just 123 yards from the championship tees, the Postage Stamp is, in fact, the shortest hole in Open Championship golf. That said, the sloping green, which measures 40 yards long by 14 yards wide, is protected by five cavernous bunkers, including the infamous ‘Coffin’ bunker, cut into the base of the sandhill that flanks the green to the left. The signature hazard was added when the Old Course was redesigned by five-time Open Champion and renowned golf course architect James Braid in 1922, in preparation for hosting its first Open Championship the following year.